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    Dean for D5

    By Jennifer Kroot–

    Last November, Dean Preston’s grassroots campaign for District 5 Supervisor prevailed over big moneyed interests in a special election. It’s déjà vu for D5! Supervisor Preston is running again, and against the same opponent. Dean has secured major endorsements, including The San Francisco Democratic Party, The Harvey Milk Democratic Club, and the Sierra Club. I spoke with Dean about his work in D5.

    Jennifer Kroot: Why is it that so many LGBTQ leaders have endorsed you?

    Dean Preston: For years, I’ve worked with the LGBTQ community in challenging real estate speculation, evictions, and displacement. Prominent LGBTQ politicians have always led on issues around housing affordability and stability. Harvey Milk led on a speculator tax. Harry Britt fought for rent control. So many of my mentors are from that community, folks like Mark Leno, Christina Olague, Tom Ammiano, Sue Englander, and Cleve Jones. I’m also delighted to have support from LGBTQ entertainers: Juanita MORE!, Honey Mahogany, and Joshua Grannell (aka Peaches Christ). It’s such an honor!

    Jennifer Kroot: Has the pandemic changed your goals for D5?

    Dean Preston: The pandemic magnified many issues that I came into office to address: housing, preventing displacement, and providing basic healthcare.

    The city effectively shut down shelters, so we saw a ballooning of the homeless population. Myself and the entire board have tried to get the city to take a bolder approach to acquiring hotel rooms. In D5, we set up a Safe Sleeping Village. My office organized volunteers to do wellness checks for seniors, including deliveries of masks and sanitizer for people in public housing, homeless shelters, and senior centers. Our office passed one of the state’s strongest eviction bans, so that no one loses their home due to the pandemic. We also led the way on the eviction moratorium for small businesses.

    Jennifer Kroot: I’ve heard you have family holocaust history. Does this inspire your activism?

    Dean Preston: Yes. My dad and his parents were German Jews, who fled the Nazis as refugees. Interestingly, at the same time my family fled Germany, here in D5, Japanese Americans were rounded up and imprisoned in internment camps. I am very aware that D5 has a dark history of displacement for many communities.

    My family history certainly guides my work. Standing up to folks who abuse power is a big theme for me—whether I’m protesting with BLM for civil rights or confronting police misconduct through litigation or helping to defend neighborhoods against real estate speculators who only care about profits.

    Jennifer Kroot: Speaking of BLM, how are you working to stop racial inequality locally?

    Dean Preston: While I serve the entire district, I made the decision to prioritize the needs and issues of the Black community in the Fillmore. Historically, this neighborhood has been the most neglected. We received money through the MTA, allocated for lighting plans. Same on traffic and pedestrian safety improvements.

    We worked with The Black Firefighters Association to re-name a street after San Francisco’s first Black firefighter, Earl Gage, Jr.  I’m thrilled to honor a local civil rights icon this way.

    Jennifer Kroot is a filmmaker known for her LGBTQ themed documentaries including “The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin” and “To Be Takei.” Kroot is a Bay Area native, and has lived in San Francisco for 31 years (15 years in District 5). She studied filmmaking at SFAI, where she has also taught. Jennifer is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

    Published on October 8, 2020